Heal McKnight on The Hard Part of Community College


McKnight recounts one student's struggle beyond the classroom @ Brevity.

He rarely did homework on time, but really, the assignments weren’t that great—predictable questions about essays in the textbook, the usual Becoming Someone or Discovering Your Voice. Still, he wrote beautifully. He always apologized for the state of his papers, telling me first that time was tight and then that computer access was limited and then, eventually, that he was in a halfway house.

The county van brought him to class and picked him up immediately afterwards.
He’d be released mid-fall, hopefully in October.

He wrote that semester about a girl—the one he used to dream about in juvenile boot camp, the one he’d feel next to him when he woke slowly, before he remembered he was locked up, marooned on that same thin mattress. He wrote about her hair, about being held and holding her, about their world of secret nicknames, and it wasn’t creepy like when other nineteen-year-old boys wrote about that. He wrote about ending their couplehood suddenly, sharply, the day he knew they’d be arresting him at school: We have to break up and you have to stop loving me so much.

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